Alma, Mich. – The Alma College women's basketball team had one of the best seasons the program has seen in recent memory this year under first-year head coach Ryan Clark. The Scots won 15 games, the most in last 16 years, and reached the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Semifinals for the first time since 2006.
Forward Madeline Barnauskas (Livonia, Mich. / Dearborn Divine Child) was named All-MIAA Second Team for her senior season. Barnauskas led the Scots with 12.2 points per game and scored the 12th most points of anyone in the conference. During Alma's five-game winning streak in the final four games of the regular and first round of the MIAA Tournament, the Livonia native averaged 16.6 points per game. The senior scored a season-high 22 points at Saint Mary's College (IN) on February 13. She finishes her career at Alma with 544 total points scored in 63 games played.
A number of players put themselves high in the program's record book with their play this season. Sophomore forward Charley Hengesbach (Saginaw, Mich. / Nouvel Catholic Central) had 58 blocks, the third most by a Scot in a single season. Sophomore center Jeny Brandt (Escanaba, Mich. / Escanaba) was not far behind with 51 blocks, the fifth-most for the program. The Saginaw native also tied the record for most blocks in a single game with seven against Spring Arbor on November 24. Hengesbach and Brandt ranked second and fourth respectively for most blocks in the conference while as a team, Alma led the MIAA with 144 total blocks.
While being a force on the defensive end, Brandt was also a great shooter for the Scots this season. Her 60.3 field goal percentage was best in the conference and a single-season's fifth-best in program history. Shooting percentage was a key for the Scots this season as they went 11-2 while shooting at least 40 percent from the floor. The sophomore also led the team with over six rebounds per game as the Scots averaged exactly 40 boards a night while leading the MIAA in defensive rebounds.
Junior guard Madison Hill (Midland, Mich. / Bullock Creek) continued to show off her facilitating skills after setting the record for ninth-most assists for a Scot in one year last season, Hill surpassed it with a conference-leading 109 helpers this year. The junior is one of four Alma players to record multiple triple-digit assist seasons. No player ever in program history has ever done it three times in their career. The Midland native also led the league in minutes played this season and ranked seventh in free throw percentage.
When it came to individual performances in one game, sophomore Jessie Jordan's (Mason, Mich. / Williamston) at Anderson University on November 27 was one of most impressive during Alma's memorable 2018-2019 campaign. The sophomore scored the most points in a single game this season by a Scot with 29 thanks to a program-record eight three-pointers made. Alma would go on to defeat Anderson, 65-53, capping a four-game winning streak, the second longest of the season for the Scots.
After going 9-7 in MIAA games, the Scots were the fourth seed in the conference tournament. With the expansion of six postseason teams occurring this year, Alma hosted its first playoff game since 2005 with the five-seeded Calvin College Knights coming to town on February 19. The Scots won 68-63 behind a career-high 24 points from freshman guard Oretha Humphries (Detroit, Mich. / Detroit Edison Public). Junior guard Hannah Thelen (Pewamo, Mich. / Pewamo Westphalia) recorded a double-double with 15 points and a team-leading 11 rebounds. Thelen scored all of her points in the second half including a corner trey while leading by three with less than a minute to go. Alma went 3-0 against Calvin this season for the first time ever.
The first postseason victory in the last decade set up a matchup with the seventh ranked team in the nation, Trine University (IN), on February 22. The top-seeded Thunder went undefeated in conference play during the regular season and provided a tough task for the Scots. Alma's season ended with a loss to the eventual MIAA Champion Thunder as the Scots only scored only 43 points led by 11 from the freshman Humphries.
This year's graduating class includes Barnauskas, guard Alexandria Bilbo (Dewitt, Mich. / Dewitt) as well as Student Assistant Coach Sophie Guzman and Student Manager Brooke Jackman.